Monday, 30 October 2017

The trip for a PGTips

Another one of those great stop press moments for me and certainly a well awaited one!

I spent my day birding around the Central Mainland on the 1st of October, I had planned to go up to Fetlar to twitch an Upland Sandpiper from the day before but sadly it was gone so we packed it in and tried to find a few species ourselves.
By around 12pm my granddad and I had managed to muster a Yellow-browed, Willow Warbler, some finches (Siskin, Twite, Redpoll), House Martin, Swallow and a very skulky Reed Warbler which preferred to crawl rather than fly, since we had found very little we decided to head back to Lerwick for 1pm as I had some bits and pieces to do.
One thing I always say is that you'll never find the rarities in the morning, its always the afternoon, yes I have seen a few messages with ones being found before the afternoon but lets keep this to simplicity's sake.  Just as we hit Lerwick I got a message "99% PALLAS'S GROPPER Ronas Voe in Irises below Barnafield" from Dan Pointon on the Rare Birds WhatsApp Group, that certainly made our day a little bit exciting, work was forgotten and we high tailed it north.

We were on site at around 1345 and a big crowd had already formed, I scanned the crowd for people I knew (most were south birders) but I did pick out a few, James Shergold was one, having met him and talked in the past thanks to Next Generation Birders, I bit further down I also spotted Andy Cook amongst the masses so I went and stood with him. For the next ten minutes a steady stream of people came and there was near enough 100 birders been at the site by that point, soon an organised flush occurred, the finders got everyone lined up along two corners of the Iris bed.

The Pallas Gropper shot out near the middle of the bed and did a few circles around before it disappeared into some nettles, I even managed to get it in the binoculars!! The notable features were quite noticeable even in flight, white tailed feathers, rounded tail, streaky appearance/plumage, I was pretty happy, 10 minutes later it had decided it had had enough of waiting in nettles and it shot back into the Iris bed and the waiting game started again.

Nothing had happened in over 40 minutes and the crowd had swelled again, a second flush was organised (the second of only three to happen over the course of two hours) and everyone had bins at the ready for when the bird flew again, I'd gotten great views the first time so I decided to try get a dodgy flight shot (just for the record).
Next thing we knew, it shot out of the bed and did a flyby, I raised the camera and clicked, not even looking through the eyepiece, after it dipped back into the irises I had a look at my camera and was surprised at what I found!

Got it! I never imagined that when I clicked the camera I'd get this shot but I did, at the time I wasn't even looking through the camera, I was just clicking and hoping and I just got it in the frame!

I was very pleased with the photo I got, and it didn't look like the bird was coming out anytime soon so I decided to head back home but I thanked the finders before I left, without them I wouldn't have seen it!

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